Does The Way Robots Are Portrayed Affect Perception?

Does The Way Robots Are Portrayed Affect Perception?

With the seemingly rapid and sudden development of many advanced robot systems, robots inclusion in media has also arguably grown. One perfect example is in adverts, at the recent super bowl several adverts featured a robot or an AI in one way or another. However many researchers of human-robot interactions have bought up the worries of how robots are portrayed, stating that the common theme is that robots in the media have to either be scary, sad or stupid. This will all create many misconceptions about bots that are already all around us every day. The number of these robots will only increase and the way they are portrayed needs to be changed.

Robots are Portrayed As Scary

Undoubtedly the most well known and commonplace of the tropes is the “to be feared” one, from Hollywood to adverts, we seem to have an obsession with portraying these robots as something sinister that we should be frightened of. The film “Terminator” is a typical example. Much of today’s media focus on the fact that home systems could be watching your every move, ignoring the fact that they also pose a huge benefit to our lives through prevention of damage, and just general convenience. There’s also the “robots will replace us” and the “robots wish to harm us” stereotype. Although threats like the possible loss of jobs robots could cause does need attention, they are coming whether we like it or not, so this extremely fearful and negative portrayal of them will get us nowhere.

Robots are Portrayed As Sad

The second trope to be wary of is the “depressed robot”. This is commonly seen as the robot with feelings that is aware of its limitations and missing parts and therefore saddened at its lack of possibility for things such as love. While not completely negative, artificial intelligence already performs many of our tasks in our daily lives, and these systems are nowhere near intelligent enough to feel these kinds of emotions. There is also the possibility that developers of future AI will likely find a way to tackle this if emotion is given.

Robots are Portrayed As Stupid

The final trope is the “dumb robot”. This is the portrayal of robots that we’ve all seen, the robot that keeps malfunctioning or breaking and can’t properly perform any tasks. It’s true that most of these AI and robots are very fragile when it comes to actually working in their environments, but even robots that can outdo human athletes aren’t really capable of doing anything else at all. However, this mindset could pose problems in the future when robots and AI are commonplace, as it undermines the fact that they still serve an important purpose, despite being very limited in what they can do compared to a human. No product is perfect and these devices do mess up, however, when this happens its usually a human error that has caused the problem. These devices are designed to do a job, it’s the humans that give it its instructions meaning its often not the robots fault.

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